Sar-El Tours & Conferences - 'For the Lord your God brings you into a good land.' (Deut 8:7)

December 2012
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Season's Greetings!
As the calendar year comes to an end we want to thank you for yet another successful year of incoming tourism to Israel. Please read on to stay updated over the holidays about the latest at Sar-El and in Israel. We look forward to the new season and hope to see you all with us in 2013!


If you like what you read don't forget to forward our email to your church members, friends and family!

Happy Holidays,
Samuel Smadja


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What's New In Israel
The Year in Numbers:  Despite the unstable situation in the South of Israel during mid-November we welcomed 223,000 tourists!  We are also pleased to report that 2012 still remains the best year in incoming tourism to date.  Israel welcomed 3.3 million visitors to the country from the month of January through November.  This is an increase of 6% compared to figures from 2011 and a rise of 3% from 2010.  The Ministry of Tourism is taking extra care to ensure that the rise in incoming tourism will continue into 2013 by increasing tourism campaigns throughout the world.

David's Sling Interceptor: Israel and the US in recent days successfully tested the David's Sling defense system designed to increase Israel's security and to thwart outside threats.  In the test, the David's Sling stationed in southern Israel stopped an incoming test missile. Under development by Raytheon in the US and Rafael in Israel, the David's Sling is a defense system  whose purpose is to fill the gap between Iron Dome's short-range protection and the Arrow 2 long-range ballistic missile defense program.

Points of Interest

As holiday lights adorn windows around the world and jelly donuts fill window displays in Israeli bakeries, we know that Hanukkah and Christmas are here!   As such we wanted to focus on sites and activities for tourists that find themselves in Israel for the holiday.

Jerusalem International YMCA

Considered an oasis of peace in the heart of the city, the Jerusalem International YMCA is a historical landmark that serves as a center of cultural, athletic, social and intellectual life in Jerusalem. Three inscriptions - Jewish, Christian and Muslim - are engraved on the building facade: "The Lord our God the Lord is One" in Hebrew, "I am the Way" in Aramaic and "There is no God but God" in Arabic. This recurring theme of spiritual unity resonates throughout the building and surrounding gardens, its thematic and decorative elements echoing the essential oneness of three great monotheistic faiths. 55 years after the YMCA's first presence in Jerusalem starting in 1878, the Jerusalem YMCA's landmark facility was opened in 1933. A striking work of architecture designed by architect Arthur Loomis (who also designed the Empire State Building in New York the same year), the facility is also deeply ingrained in the history of the city itself.  Despite the repeated conflicts that have ravaged this city over the years, the YMCA has remained a consistent beacon of hope, peace and friendship. The YMCA hosts many holiday events for all religions.


This year's Christmas events include:

December 13th - Tree Decorating, Arts and Crafts Workshop, Bell Concert and Singing 

December 23rd - Annual Christmas party for Jerusalem's Needy Children (closed event)

December 24th - 7:00pm - Christmas Carol Concert for a small fee  


We invite our tourists to explore this modern Christian Jerusalem landmark during the Christmas season and all year round. On the hour-long tour you will discover the meaning behind the biblical symbols etched in stone along the columned walkways and have the chance to experience a breathtaking 360-degree panorama view of Jerusalem from high above the city with the only Carillon bells in the Middle East. For more information or to book a tour, please have your local travel agent contact our office.



The Tomb of the Maccabees   

Hanukkah is a festive holiday celebrating two events: the military victory of the Maccabees led by Judah Maccabee against the Greeks, and also the miracle of the oil. Every year in Israel Hanukkah celebrations are held at the Maccabean graves located in modern-day Modi'in.   There is no argument today that the "official" location of the Maccabean graves is not the real site. While the site is still called "the graves of the Maccabees," archaeologists have discovered these graves were put there a few hundred years after the Hasmonean times (descendants of the Maccabees), during the Byzantine period. Amit Re'em, an archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority says all the evidence points to the fact that these graves are of Christians and pagans and that this burial site actually belongs to an ancient monastery. Not far away, lies the Yohanan Hagardi Ruins, named after Yohanan Hagardi, son of Mattathias [Matisyahu]. Re'em believes this could be the site of the real graves and is waiting until they will have enough financial backing to actually dig. If his assumptions are correct the archeological dig and discovery of the real tombs will be one of great historical importance in Judaism, as the Maccabees and Hasmoneans play an important role in Jewish history. Until then Hanukkah celebrations are still held at the "official" site of the Maccabean graves, and we encourage you to visit the site.     



Christmas in Bethlehem  

If you are fortunate enough to be in Israel during the Christmas holiday, your trip wouldn't be complete without visiting the place of the Jesus' birth. Bethlehem's historical significance is exasperated in December when pilgrims from around the world come to be part of the festivities. Throughout December tourists come to see the birthplace of the Messiah, just as the Three Wise Men came to humbly worship Baby Jesus and to bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh some 2,000 years ago. Christmas Eve services and a carol sing-a-long are held in Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site of Jesus' birth. For Catholic tourists Midnight Mass is held at the Church of St. Catherine, also just off of Manger Square. Please remember that all visitors to Bethlehem must have their passports with them in order to enter and exit!

Sar-El News

Sar-El IT Solutions: A component of the Sar-El family's purpose and vision is to provide work for Bible-Believing Local Israelis in as many professions as possible. One example of this is the new computer company, Sar-El IT Solutions Ltd., led by Michael Bar David. Michael is a local Jewish Believer who was a computer programmer in the Israeli army. From website design and database building, to software consulting and technology infrastructure development and maintenance, the company provides a wide range of web solutions and site building. Sar-El IT Solutions Ltd. is located in Israel and provides services all over the world. Please visit our  website for more information or send us an email here for consultation.


El Rey Jesus Church Tour: We were honored to serve El Rey Jesus Church from Miami on their first congregational tour to Israel. Led by Pastor William Lozano and his team, 200 church members joined the tour to the Holy Land. The group was blessed by a special evening of worship and Jewish folklore dancing with locals Barry and Batya Segal, as well as a ministry night led by the El Rey Jesus leaders. The group gathered for many messages and quiet times all around Israel: the Garden Tomb, the Sea of Galilee and numerous sites throughout Jerusalem. One tour member commented on how God touched her in such a powerful way during their visit to the Western Wall; we praise God for His marvelous ways! We would like to thank the El Rey Jesus Church for coming to Israel in November in the midst of the conflict with Gaza and standing firm and showing their support for Israel.   


Voice of Evangelism with Perry Stone: Though the security situation seemed uncertain and the news broadcasted Pillar of Defense updates 24/7, Perry Stone in steadfast leadership came to Israel before his group to "spy out the land" so to speak.  He decided that the news agencies were not to be believed and that his people were safe to come.  Two days later almost 400 God-fearing Christians came to Israel, many for the first time and saw the Mt. of Beatitudes, Mt. of Olives, Garden Tomb of Jesus, and sailed on the Sea of Galilee.  Perry made an extra strong point by having Arab Drivers and Jewish Guides and these Christians were able to see the reality of what happens in Israel on a Sar-El tour - Everything goes smoothly.  We praise the leadership of Perry Stone.  We praise the faith of the Christians who chose to believe us when we said we would take care of them.  We praise God who impacted so many lives and shared His heart with those who came seeking Him.  Give Him Praise!

Spiritual Insights

Don't Throw Away that Piece of Bread!    by Josa Bivin   

Editor: David Bivin of


When Richard and Lucinda (our volunteer workers) first came to Israel, they noticed plastic sacks containing pieces of bread hanging from the sides of the trash containers along the street where we live. When they asked me about this, I couldn't give an answer, but later remembered that people here do not throw away their leftover bread. I had heard that Jews consider it a sin to throw bread away, but never knew why.


I went to David's library, pulled out the Encyclopaedia Judaica volume with the entry "Bread" (vol. 4, pp. 1333-1335) and read that since biblical times "providing bread for the poor was regarded as a great religious duty (Isa. 58:7; Prov. 22:9); the withholding of it from the hungry, a sin (Job 22:7). Even Micah, the idolater (Judg. 17), was not deprived of his share in the world to come, because he provided bread for the poor ([Babylonian Talmud, Tractate] Sanh[edrin] 103b). Whenever R[abbi] Huna broke bread for a meal, he first opened his door and said, 'Let anyone in need come and eat' ([Babylonian Talmud,] Ta'an[it] 20b)...."


The importance of sharing one's bread with the poor has remained in the Jewish consciousness until today. Many people do not want to throw away bread. Instead of dumping their bread along with the rest of their garbage into the garbage carts parked along the streets, they save the bread in plastic sacks and hang it from the metal projections on the sides of the carts (used to hoist the carts into the garbage trucks). That way, the bread is potentially available to the poor. Not all Jews in Israel follow this custom, but lots do, especially here in our neighborhood of Maoz Zion.


It is not unusual to see hunks of bread or part of a roll lying on a curb, or on top of a wall. One day while sitting in the car in front of the post office waiting for David, I noticed a young, poorly dressed man walking along the sidewalk. Suddenly, he turned around and proceeded to walk in the opposite direction. After a short time, he again made a complete turn and continued in the direction he originally was going. This time, he walked close to the wall of the post office building, and without slowing his walk or turning his head, he raised his right arm and grabbed a piece of bread that had been lying on the ledge of the wall. This was the first time I had ever seen this happen and I realized that this poor man was truly hungry. 


One Sunday morning, while walking our dog, I noticed a plastic bag hanging from the side of a garbage cart. In it was a whole loaf of delicious Sabbath bread, plus half a loaf of sliced regular bread. I thought to myself, "Hey, this is good stuff!" and brought the bag home. The bread came in handy for sandwiches, French toast, and so forth. A neighbor uses such bread for her cats and chickens. Eventually, if no one takes the bread, the garbage collectors remove it.


Bread has a special, almost sacred, connotation in Jewish life. Whenever bread is eaten, even a piece the size of an olive, a blessing must be said. Jesus referred to "bread" many times in his teachings, and he taught his disciples to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." "As bread cast upon the waters will return after many days" (Eccles. 11:1), so, "He that has a generous [lit., good] eye will be blessed; for he gives his bread to the poor" (Prov. 22:9). Let us think twice before we toss our leftover bread into the trash.

A Word from Samuel

I would like to thank all of those who kept us in their prayers for 2012. Even with the world events, global economic problems and the international attention Israel experienced as of late, by the grace of God 2012 is a record breaking year for tourism in Israel. I want to thank everyone who came in 2012; it was a great help and support for our nation. God has blessed Sar-El with many brothers and sisters from all over the world who came to Israel with the intention of experiencing the land firsthand and going deeper in the word of God. We are confident that after being with us they went home as ambassadors of prayer when we needed them the most: in times when the support and "popularity" of Israel has not been at its peak. With the major events as of late and uncertainty in the region we hold fast to the knowledge that the God of Abraham who sits on the circle of the earth and sees all things holds His word of truth over Israel!


In conjunction with our fantastic agents from around the world, this year we had the privilege to honor and serve as the land agent for some major tours and conferences: Mike Huckabee Group, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Insight For Living with Pastor Charles Swindoll, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah, Harvest Christian Fellowship with Greg Laurie, Kreuzfahrt 2012, International TBN Tour with Dr. Paul and Matt Crouch, PVI Conference with Tom Hess, ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles, CNL-TV Russia, The Joshua Fund with Joel Rosenberg, Voice of Evangelism with Perry Stone, El Rey Jesus Church, Tents of Mercy, Moody Bible Institute Tour, Calvary Ft. Lauderdale with Pastor Bob Coy, CCF, Compass Bible Group with Mike Sabarez, Pastor Bernard Group, Ha Maayan Conference with Tony Sperandeo, and the ICZC Feast of Tabernacles.  Thank you to all of our partners abroad who performed the incredible to bring tourists to Israel in the midst of security threats and instability in the region. We truly could not have done it without your efforts and fervor!


Let me also take this opportunity to wish you all a joyful holiday season. Let us remember God's mercy poured out on us during this time; His perfect love that casts out all fear and shines through the darkness; and the Light of the World that was given to us so that we may be called Sons and Daughters of the Most High. Happy Holidays and many blessings and shalom to you and your family from ours!   


With Warm Regards,

Samuel & Susan Smadja
Sar-El Tours & Conferences

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